Sarah Butler DEPS, Shaun Robertson Everton FC, Jason O'Connor FAI Development Officer and Daniel Butler DEPS, pictured outside Goodison Park for ‘Fitness Through Football'
Last weekend was the finale to the Limerick City Drug Education Prevention Strategy (DEPS) ‘Fitness Through Football’ programme for 2017/2018.
The eight week programme, which ran in partnership with the FAI and Everton football club, is the brain child of DEPS drug education worker and Limerick City and County Councillor Daniel Butler who, along with co-worker Sarah Butler, co-ordinate the programme annually.
FAI Football Development Officer Jason O’Connor delivers two sessions a week to participants (adult males between 20- 30 years of age), who are currently unemployed.
All participants are fitness tested using the 150s test at the beginning and end of the programme and the results highlight the physical improvements that take place.
As well as the two football fitness sessions, the participants spent two hours each week with fitness specialist and consultant Darragh Droog in the Delta Sports Dome.
On week four of the course, the group enjoyed a week long camp with coaches from English Premier League side Everton.
Aside from a physical fitness improvement, the personal development aspect of the programme has often led to life changing experiences for those who complete the eight weeks
A busy four day schedule each week includes a weekly workshop on topics including mental health, sexual health and drug and alcohol awareness classes.
Another element of the highly enjoyable course are cookery classes with qualified chef Andrew Williams of the HSE who teaches the men to cook healthy and nutritious meals.
The long term goal of the Fitness Through Football course are to aid the participants in achieving Full time employment, a return to education or an interest in community volunteering.
The final instalment of the eight week course was last weekend when the group visited partner club Everton to play a game against a selection of academy coaches, before going on to watch their hosts Everton beat Crystal Palace 3-1 at Goodison Park.